Remembering Nellie May Trent Bush
1888 – 1963
With her husband Joseph Bush, Nellie May Trent Bush helped establish the town of Parker on the Arizona side of the Colorado River. They ran the Parker Ferry beginning in 1915 and lived on the “Nellie T” ferryboat with their infant son Wesley.
For 17 years Nellie operated as a licensed riverboat pilot. She also took flying lessons and with pilot’s license in hand purchased a Waco airplane, which she found useful in expediting legal papers from her law offices in Parker to Yuma or Phoenix.
Graduating from Arizona State University (then Tempe Normal School) with a teaching certificate, Nellie taught in the three-room Parker school for four years. In 1923 she passed the bar exam after years of studying law and graduating from the University of Arizona law school.
“I am a firm believer in women going into politics—the more the better,” Nellie said in the 1920’s. “They simply have to eliminate some of their old-fashioned ideas regarding the differences in the sexes.”
Nellie May Trent Bush’s public service:
Arizona House of Representatives
Arizona State Senate
Justice of the Peace
Parker, Arizona Attorney
Parker, Arizona Magistrate
Parker School Board
Colorado River Water Commission
Arizona Stream and Boundary Commission
United States Presidential Convention Delegate 1932
Although an educated and highly respected member of the Parker community, Nellie rolled up her sleeves when two of seven pontoon barges for a roadway bridge over the Colorado River at Parker needed a coat of waterproof coal tar. During a controversy over a diversionary dam at Parker, Nellie captained the “Julie B” riverboat to ferry National Guard Troops ordered by Governor Moeur to stop the dam’s construction. For this service, the Governor proclaimed her “Admiral of the Arizona Navy!”
Nellie Bush also championed women’s organizations in Arizona and served as president of the Arizona Federated Women’s Clubs. Much of the information included in this article comes from Nellie’s profile included in the Arizona Business and Professional Women’s Federation publication, Women Who Made a Difference.
In 1985, Nellie’s son, Wesley commented on his mother’s life saying in part that she spent many years “in her community teaching Sunday school class every Sunday in the only church in Parker . . . playing the piano for church gatherings . . . the endless hours working on her old Underwood typewriter beside some local citizen who needed legal advice, typing a legal paper for them, free! She gave far more to the community and the state than she accepted.”
Affectionately known as Nellie T., she certainly is a woman well worth remembering.
http://arizonabpwfoundation.com/WWMAD.html “Women Who Made a Difference has been published by the Arizona Business and Professional Women's Foundation to record and preserve the history of Arizona's working women.” Arizona Business and Professional Women’s Federation publication, Women Who Made a Difference